Chewing is a common behaviour in puppies and adolescent dogs. Although some dogs will chew more than others, and with more determination. Your young dog may enjoy gnawing on your slippers, your furniture and even your walls! But it’s important to remember they’re not doing it out of spite.
There’s a range of reasons why dogs chew so much, from teething to boredom and separation anxiety. It’s a habit they’ll likely grow out of, but in the meantime, there are ways to train a dog to stop chewing.
We’ve explored some of our top tips to help you understand your dog’s chewing behaviour and how to prevent it.
Why do dogs chew so much?
Understanding why dogs chew so much is the first step to stopping your dog from chewing everything. By spotting the tell-tale signs you can reduce their destructive habits. Here are the common reasons why dogs chew:
Much like human babies, puppies chew to relieve teething pain. Although it can differ, a puppy’s baby teeth start falling out at around 3 months. The adult teeth then begin to grow through, with all 42 teeth fully developed by about 8 months. During this time, your puppy’s teeth and gums cause a lot of pain and discomfort. They’ll chew anything and everything they can get their teeth into to dull the pain.
Does your dog chew when they’re left home alone? They could be suffering from separation anxiety. Chewing can be calming, giving your dog something to focus on to self-soothe while you’re out. Don’t take it personally if your dog chooses something of yours to gnaw on. They find your smell comforting – it means they miss you!
Other stresses or anxieties
It isn’t just separation anxiety that causes chewing. Other triggers can cause destructive chewing, like thunderstorms and other loud noises. Look out for specific events that cause a behaviour change. With thunderstorms or fireworks, your dog may start chewing walls and doors as they’re trying to escape.
Boredom is a common reason why dogs chew so much. If your dog lacks mental and physical stimulation, they’ll look for new ways to entertain themselves. This could be digging up your beautiful flower beds, or it could be tearing up your expensive sofa cushions. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to prevent chewing caused by boredom, but more on that later.
Lack of training
To stop your dog from chewing your things, they must understand what is out of bounds. Especially with puppies, chewing might simply be because they don’t know any better. Your puppy won’t know the difference between what’s theirs and what’s yours, so it may take some time and reinforcement to stop your slipper thief!
How to prevent your dog from chewing everything?
Regardless of the reasons for your dog’s love of chewing, there are some easy techniques to prevent it. While it’ll take a change from both you and your dog, it’ll result in a happier, better-behaved dog. Here’s how to stop your dog from chewing your things:
Soothe teething pains
All puppies chew when they’re teething to soothe their painful teeth and gums. But there are ways to aid their discomfort. Give them cold foods like ice cubes and frozen carrots to gnaw on as the cold numbs the pain. You can even freeze their treat dispenser toys with peanut butter in them. Also, keep your dog distracted with chews to prevent them from chewing through furniture or walls.
Encourage a love of toys
Ensure your dog has lots of exciting toys to play with. Toys with different textures and sounds will keep them mentally stimulated. So, rather than stopping chewing entirely, your dog will have their own belongings to chew instead of yours. Having toys to play with encourages your dog to self-soothe. You can also use their toys to entice them away from mischief whenever you spot the tell-tale signs.
Make time for regular walks and playtime
Make sure you join in the fun with your dog to keep them active and distract them from chewing. Playing with them indoors teaches them what items are toys and stops them from getting bored. If you’re planning to leave them at home alone, make time for a walk beforehand. Tiring them out will reduce separation anxiety, so they’re less likely to chew through your things.
Calm stresses and anxieties
If you find toys and tiring them out doesn’t ease anxieties, try a calming aid for dogs. Our range of natural dog calming products is perfect for stressed and anxious dogs. They’re entirely safe and contain a careful blend of essential oils to keep dogs calm the natural way. Choose from a range of oils, sprays or a natural calming supplement for particularly stressful events to prevent destructive chewing. For more advice about how to relieve separation anxiety, read our recent blog.
Ensure plenty of social interaction
Social interaction is an essential part of puppyhood. As well as other dogs, the more time they spend around people, the more they’ll learn about what’s good behaviour. Human contact helps your dog to develop their social skills, which can reduce stress and anxiety. This results in an overall happier dog who’s less likely to show destructive behaviour.
Reward good behaviour with treats
Rather than punishing your dog for being naughty, reward them when they’re being good. If you catch them in the act, it’s ok to bribe them with a treat. The idea is that they’ll drop whatever is in their mouth, and you can reward them for releasing it. Gradually introduce a command like ‘give’ or ‘dead’ as you give them their tasty treat, and they’ll learn when to drop something.
Remove temptation by puppy-proofing
Puppy-proofing your house is essential to reduce chewing. While it’s impossible to remove everything, move any tempting belongings like shoes, bags and socks out of reach. It’s an opportunity to have a clear up and put away any clutter. And it’s easier for your dog to understand what’s theirs and what isn’t!
Invest in an anti-chew spray
Whatever you try, sometimes dogs can be relentless. You can’t always stop a dog from chewing when home alone, and if you’re working from home, it’s impossible to watch them at all times. For those situations (and when you’re not willing to risk losing a prized possession), invest in our natural anti-chew spray. The bitter apple spray is entirely safe, but the bitter taste deters chewing and biting. The spray is suitable for most surfaces, including furniture, shoes and most fabrics. It’s a must-have product to stop dogs from chewing.